With each passing day the Rangers team continues to mould itself into a finer well oiled machine, one that looks to be without 1st round selections Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark. Brendl has been less than impressive of late due to his conditioning or lack of. His skating needs work as it appears he is NOT ready for NHL action. During the Rangers latest day of practice Captain Brian Leetch had Brendl lead the skating group in laps. Veteran Kevin Stevens started a group chant that included “come on Pavel, you can do it…”. It seems as the one time roster lock has just about had his bags packed and is headed back to the Western League and Calgary Hitmen for an encore. Many outside of the Rangers management believe that Brendl can still score 15-20 goals at the NHL level this year if he is given the proper amount of ice time but not under John Muckler`s system. With Brendl just about out of the running one has to wonder about the draft day trade that sent a first rounder as well as up and comer Daniel Cloutier and Niklas Sundstrøm to Tampa. The positive is Brendl can learn from his first NHL camp and flourish in the WHL and hone his skills for the 2000-01 season in NYC and open a spot on the wing allowing Mike Knuble to gain more ice time as he has deserved with a strong pre-season.
Erstwhile Jamie Lundmark has been most impressive and looks most ready for the NHL although his size(strength) has been his downfall. Another year of Juniors and an NHL strength training regimen could very solve this problem.
Well, the Soo Greyhounds training camp has come and gone for another season and this year’s camp has produced a few surprises. All things considered though, the 1999-2000 Greyhounds are in great shape.
The Greyhounds had four rookie goalies in camp (Jeremy Day, Tyler Mercier, Jeremy Elliott and Ray Emery). Last season’s goalies, Jason Flick and Jake McCracken, were attending NHL training camps and missed part of the camp. Flick was in Tampa Bay and McCracken was in Detroit. Both have since returned.
As for the rookie goalies, fifth round pick Ray Emery had a good camp but the only way he is going to be a regular in the Greyhounds lineup is if either Flick or McCracken are dealt during the season. Jeremy Day also played well making 50 saves in an exhibition game against the Sudbury Wolves on September 10th.
The Greyhounds have a lot of experience on their blueline this year. With six returning defensemen the Greyhounds had only a spot or two open for rookies. First round draft pick Trevor Daley has given Greyhound fans a good reason to smile. Daley’s skating is great and he has good on-ice vision.
CHL import pick Vaclav Zavoral spent a good part of camp at the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp. He played his first game as a member of the Greyhounds this past Saturday against Sudbury and he played pretty well. He has good size and mobility. He also handles the puck well.
During his days with Guelph, Mike Kelly helped mold the Storm into the perennial Ontario Hockey League powerhouse that they remain today. Kelly left his post as the Director of Scouting with the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames this past spring to join the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires as their President and General Manager.
Two days before the start of his team’s 1999-2000 OHL season, Kelly sat down for a talk over breakfast
JH Why leave the sanctity and the prestige of the National Hockey League to return to junior hockey – and a floundering junior hockey franchise at that?
MK (Spitfire owner) Steve Riolo was very persistent in talking to me. He had contacted me shortly after Christmas last year when I was at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Winnipeg. I really did not have a strong interest at that time, mainly because I had only been in the NHL for only a season and a half. Steve called me again in February and we met, and again I basically indicated to him that I was content to remain with the Calgary Flames. But he kept calling and calling and just before I was about to leave for the World Under-18 championships in Germany in April, I had a pretty good idea of how badly he wants to build a winner in Windsor.
To be honest, from an outside perspective, I have always looked at this franchise and thought that it had a lot of potential.
Just three short months removed from their gut-wrenching Stanley Cup Final loss, the Buffalo Sabres opened their 1999 training camp with high hopes for a return to the Big Dance. Although some of the pieces to the puzzle are currently missing (free-agent holdouts), the Sabres have enough good prospects to keep things interesting during the drudgery of the exhibition season.
Prospect junkies view the NHL pre-season as a good time to evaluate where certain prospects are at in their development, so they look forward to receiving any scrap of information they can get regarding their favorite team’s prospects. People such as this writer are only too happy to provide the prospect junkies with their fix, but getting information from NHL training camps is sometimes easier said than done. In the case of the Buffalo Sabres, the embargo on information regarding the current camp has been truly disappointing. Given the small numbers of people that attend practices, as well as the limited number of news outlets covering camp, it has been somewhat difficult to cobble together worthwhile information on the play of some of the prospects in camp.
Still, rather than make excuses, I will take the information I have and present as accurately as I can the noteworthy events of the first two weeks of the Buffalo Sabres ’99 training camp.
“Defense? What’s that?”
Adrian Aucoin officially made a commitment with Team Canada on Tuesday and will join Tom Renney and the gang in Calgary at Father David Bauer Arena. This, however mean’s a lot for the rookies playing with Vancouver currently and not shaved from the roster.
Zenith Komarniski and Rene Vydareny have a chance to stick with the club until Aucoin signs the papers and Jovo-Cop does the same. A little off topic on the youngsters with the Canucks, Greg Hawgood may have his chance also, he is playing without a contract right now however the Canucks haven’t cut the 31 year old. This could be an opportunity for him and Kormarniski and Vydareny.
“I don’t think anyone’s paying that much attention to it,” said Greg Hawgood, who’s trying to win a spot on the defence. “It’s out of the control of anyone who’s in that dressing room.”
On to other news involving Pre-Season is Bryan Allen. The 4th overall pick of the 1998 Entry Draft is undeniably the ideal candidate for a personalized hospital room. Allen has been told to stay in Vancouver for the Canucks trip to Eastern Canada for games against Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Allen had his left knee checked Monday and the results still aren’t in. With Jovanovski and Aucoin out, Burke is going to pray that the results are pretty or else the NHL’s promising young defense core in Vancouver may turn flip flop and make the offense more appealing.
(Quotes from the Vancouver Province)